Selamat Nata: Celebrating Christmas in Indonesia
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Selamat Nata: Celebrating Christmas in Indonesia

It’s nearly Christmas time, and as everyone books in their Christmas dinner, here at Banana Tree, we wonder how others around the world celebrate this time of year. Christmas is the perfect excuse to indulge and our Pulled Duck Spring Rolls are just one of many dishes we’re serving up this December.

Although most citizens in Indonesia are Muslim, there’s still a small amount of the population that are Christians - which is about 20 million people as the population is so large. Christians in Indonesia enjoy celebrating Christmas and have festive traditions of their own.

Christmas Traditions in Indonesia

Locals that celebrate Christmas will typically attend a church service on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, much like Christians here in the UK. In many of the churches, there will be nativity played out for those who attend. People will also bring nativity scenes that they’ve made themselves, to help tell the story. A popular carol to sing is Malam Kudus, which is an Indonesian version of ‘O Holy Night’.

In big cities, in the lead up to the big day, shopping malls will decorate their areas with plastic Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Most local television stations in Indonesia will broadcast Christmas music concerts, and the national government will also help organise a number of celebrations across the country. In Indonesia, Santa Claus is called 'Sinterklass' and he plays the same role, delivering presents to children on Christmas Day.

Bamboo firecrackers are also a regular feature across the country, with many being fired them off as a symbol of their happiness in the birth of baby Jesus. In Toraja, their own festival on Christmas Day also ends with fireworks. A beautiful display that leaves many spectators in awe and should not be missed if you’re a visitor to the area. In North Sumatra, an animal is sacrificed to celebrate Christmas and people will donate money to buy the animal.

The Food

You may find restaurants open on Christmas day in Oxford, but if you find yourself in Indonesia, you will have no problem finding somewhere to eat as tourists are expected in the area, you’ll often find plenty of locals eating out at restaurants during Christmas Eve as well.

However, like most of the UK, people will also gather at home with their families to enjoy a delicious spread of food, while sharing stories and catching up with relatives who usually live far away. In Indonesia, different areas will have their own traditions with Papua’s main dish being pork, while Ambon has a traditional drink called Sopi, a special type of wine.

Cookies are also a must when it comes to traditional food, and loved ones will hand these out to one another, coated in white powder. These ‘Snow White’ cookies are readily available in the local bakeries and supermarkets too. Other popular types of cookies include ‘Nastar’ containing pineapple jam filling and 'Kastengel’ containing cheese.

Whatever you are up to this Christmas, make sure you book your table at Banana Tree, where we’re serving a Christmas menu through the holidays. Book now to avoid missing out.

Selamat Natal!